Saturday, December 29, 2007

Arts and Aging Programs for Older Adults

In a previous post, I wrote about a library program that focused on older women artists and how art enriched their lives. If you are interested in having art programs for older adults at your library, the National Center for Creative Aging website is a good place to find information. This organization provides training for art programs, promotes arts and aging programs, and supports research concerning aging and the arts.

The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) is “dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging and to developing programs that build on this understanding." Older adults can locate local art programs by using the Arts and Aging National Directory. This search can be used to find literary, media, performing, or visual arts programs. The NCAA website has more creative aging resources here.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Season's Greetings

I hope this holiday season finds you and your family healthy and happy!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Ageing Artfully" Program

I recently attended an older adult program at my public library, which was led by Amy Gorman. She is the author of an excellent book called “Aging Artfully: 12 Profiles of Visual and Performing Women Artists 85-105”. The older women described in the book enjoy life and are passionate about their art. I believe that older adults will find this book inspirational and empowering. "Aging Artfully" recently won a Bronze Medal from the prestigious 2007 Independent Publishing Book Awards (IPPYS), in the category of Women's Issues.

During the presentation, Amy Gorman talked about how she decided to write this book after seeking out older adult women artists to be her role models. She showed a film called “Still Kicking: Six high spirited women reveal that growing old is not a curse-it’s an opportunity” which included interviews with six women from her book. The film was very moving and well done. I would recommend Amy Gorman's book and this film for any public library collection.

This presentation was well attended and the audience not only enjoyed the program, but also participated in a spirited question and answer session with the author. The presentation was a great example of a positive portrayal of aging – one in which old age is viewed as a time for creativity and sharing one’s art and experiences.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Amazing Library Webpage for Older Adults

The Cuyahoga County Public Library has an excellent set of web pages and features for older adults. I found out about this library website through "Keys to Engaging Older Adults at Your Library: a Toolkit", written by Fatima Perkins (this toolkit was recently sent out to the Aging Services listserv of the American Library Association). This Ohio public library has outdone itself with information, resources, and features for older adults on its website.

Here are some of the features that I really liked about their website:

On the home page:

  • There is a link to "Senior Space" their main page for senior information.
  • There is a link to their catalog's list of new large print titles.
On the main Senior Space webpage:
  • a newsfeed for articles of interest for older adults.
  • Consumer information links
  • Recommended books for older adults with a direct link for each title to its catalog page.
  • A link for seniors to email questions to a librarian
  • Email signup link - allows seniors to get updates on senior information and they can also choose over 20 additional subjects sent to their email - plus updates about specific library branch news.
  • Information Gateway link goes to a page with agencies, organizations, and web gateways for older adults.
  • Health Concerns link - health page has not only the usual health links, but also grief resources and an extensive list of sources about long term care.
  • Money Matters - financial links
  • Business of Living links - jobs, housing, education, and law sites for older adults.
  • Leisure - social network for older adults, grandparenting, sports and exercise, travel, and volunteering information.
I am sorry that this post is so long, but I really wanted to share all these features with you. The extensive list of resources in each category are great. But where this website really shines is the fact that it is not static information- the news articles for older adults are updated, as are the "recommended books" for older adults. There are library 2.0 features, such as the ability to have personalized email updates sent to the patrons. I hope that in the future they add an RSS capability to the "Senior Space" page, when more older adults begin to use news readers. I recommend that you consider adding some of these features to your own library website.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Benefits of E-books for Older Adults

As people age, their vision is not as good as it was. Many people start to struggle to read regular print books, magazines, and newspapers. Ironically, just when they gain the time to read, they find out that there are very few books available to them and some find that their arthritis prevents them from using large print editions.

E-books that can be read on a small e-book reader could be the solution to these problems. I have written an article about this topic over on the Teleread blog. To read my article, please click this link.

Note: Teleread is a "nonpartisan plan to get electronic books and other educational resources into American homes--through a well-stocked national digital library system and small, sharp-screened computers that eventually could sell for under $100 or even $50." The Teleread blog has news & views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Research on Baby Boomer Volunteers

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a government agency that supports volunteer organizations, conducts research about volunteerism, and promotes volunteering in the United States. They have recently published an issue brief called "Baby Boomers and Volunteering: Findings from Corporation Research" and a research report called "Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering: a Research Brief on Retention and Turnover" (found via

Key Findings of These Reports:

  • Baby Boomers from 46-57 have higher volunteer rates than older generations.
  • How Baby Boomers become volunteers is important - people asked to help by the volunteer organization have a much higher retention rate than those asked by their employer to volunteer.
  • Baby Boomers favorite type of volunteering is with religious organizations.
  • Baby Boomers' second favorite type of volunteer activity is educational and youth services - whereas previous generations chose civic, political, business and international volunteer work as their second most popular volunteer category.
  • Remaining in the workforce increases the likelihood that a Baby Boomer will stay in their volunteer position.
  • A higher educational level and a tendency to have children later in life seem to be factors in the high volunteer rate of Baby Boomers.
  • Baby Boomers volunteers who do management or professional tasks, rather than general labor, are more likely to continue to volunteer.
The Corporation for National and Community Service has projected the number of volunteers from 2007 to 2050. They created this projection by multiplying the estimated probability of volunteering by the number of people age 65 and older for each year. There are a little under 9 million senior volunteers at present. They predict that there will be 9 and a half million senior volunteers by 2010 and over 13 million in 2020. That is approximately a 44% increase in the next 13 years!

These statistics have great implications for public libraries. First, here is a great opportunity for libraries to gain more older adult volunteers in the future. Currently, many older adult volunteers help libraries by doing tasks such as pulling hold requests and shelving books. This research shows that many Boomers will want to be challenged and use their life skills in their volunteer work. Therefore, we should consider how to recruit older adults to give programs, to lead workshops at the library, or to become mentors at our libraries.

Related research report from Dec 2006:
Volunteer Growth in America: A Review of Trends since 1974

See also these previous posts:
How Volunteering Can Benefit Older Adults
Age Differences in Volunteering

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